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South Korea considers financing of possible inter-Korea projects: finance minister

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South Korea’s finance minister said on Wednesday (May 2) the government was discussing how to finance possible economic projects with North Korea, although any projects with Pyongyang must first be approved by the international community. “We’re internally carrying out preparations, in terms of what to prepare, and how to co-operate with the international community, and how to finance (possible inter-Korea projects),” Kim Dong Yeon told reporters in Sejong. But we need support from the international community and need to watch the (upcoming) summit between the United States and North Korea,” Kim said, without elaborating on specifics of any government financing.

Kim’s comments come after South Korean President Moon Jae In and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un agreed last Friday on a common goal of a “nuclear-free” peninsula, and to “adopt practical steps towards the connection and modernization of the railways and roads”. Many speculate that the two Koreas will start joint infrastructure projects as soon as international sanctions on North Korea are lifted. South Korea’s newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported that President Moon gave the North Korean leader a USB drive during last week’s summit. According to a senior Blue House official who briefed local reporters on Monday, the USB contained an e-book and a short presentation illustrating Moon’s so-called “New Economic Map” initiative, which was initially made public last July in a speech in Berlin.South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, says the initiative aims at a “single market” for the two Koreas in order to “lay the foundation for unification” job creation and higher economic growth for both countries, reported JoongAng Ilbo.

North Korea stages military parade in Pyongyang on eve of South’s Winter Olympics

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Seoul said North Korea staged a military parade in Pyongyang today, in a show of strength just a day before the Winter Olympics open in the South. In recent days, thousands of troops and hundreds of armoured vehicles have been seen rehearsing for the display in the capital. Unlike the North’s last parade in April 2017 its state television did not show it live, but a Seoul government source confirmed it was held at Kim Il-sung square in Pyongyang.

Winter Olympics: North Korea presses ahead with military parade

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North Korea has defended plans for a large-scale military parade scheduled for the day before the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Pyongyang’s annual military parade to mark the founding of its armed forces has taken place in April for 40 years. From 2018, however, it has been changed to 8 February – when athletes will gather in Pyeongchang for the opening ceremony the following day. North Korea said that no-one had the right to take issue with its plans, rejecting views that the event is provocative.

North Korea likely making solid-fuel rocket engines at Hamhung factory: 38 North

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According to an analysis posted on Tuesday by 38 North, the specialist website on North Korean affairs, large solid-fuel rocket engines for North Korea’s ballistic missile program are most likely being made at a factory complex near Hamhung. The factory’s existence is said to underscore the importance of solid-fuel engines in the modernization of Pyongyang’s ballistic missile forces. “North Korea has been working on developing solid-propellant missiles because they can be transported, stored and prepared for launch more quickly than liquid-fueled systems.

North Korea: the challenge of turning inter-Korean thaw into longer-term detente

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The peaceful climate in which yesterday’s meeting between South and North Korea took place quickly evaporate when the North’s chief negotiator threatened to walk out after the South Korean side raised the question Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes. “We had started in a good spirit but this came to an icky mood”, North Korea’s lead delegate Ri Son Gwon complained in closing remarks. Ri also said he would not discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme with the South because its nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles are aimed “thoroughly” at the United States, not at its “brethren” in the South. This reaction shows how, although talks yielded agreements to hold military talks and facilitate North Korea’s participation in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, turning this loosening of tensions into a longer-term detente will be very difficult. North Korea in fact does not intend to negotiate its nuclear arsenal while on the other side Washington insist that complete denuclearisation is the only acceptable outcome.

Russian diplomat warns an apocalyptic outcome of North Korean crisis

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A Russian deputy foreign minister has said that the current nuclear-missile crisis on the Korean Peninsula could end in an “apocalyptic scenario” and called upon direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang to prevent that outcome. “To my regret, I have to say that there is an apocalyptic scenario for the development of events in this region. I hope that the regional community will have enough common sense to prevent this scenario from becoming a reality,” Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said on Monday at a session of the Valdai discussion club in Seoul, South Korea. He also called upon senior officials in South Korea and the United States “to exhale” and start talks with North Korea over increasing tensions. “Since September 15, Pyongyang has not conducted any test launches. If the restraint that Pyongyang has been demonstrating over the past two months was met with proportionate response steps on the part of the United States and its allies, it would be possible to start the second stage of our roadmap plan and start direct talks between the United States and North Korea,” he said.

Claiming serious U.S. provocation, North Korea vows retort

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Following America’s move to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, Pyongyang has fought back, calling it “a serious provocation”. On Wednesday, two days after being featured on the list, North Korea responded and vowed to keep up its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against the “hostile” United States. A spokesman of the North’s Foreign Ministry told its official Korean Central News Agency, “The U.S., the kingpin of all kinds of terrorism who cannot even prevent terror in its own territory, is acting like an ‘international judge on terrorism’ while attaching or removing the label of ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ on sovereign countries. This is a serious provocation and a violent infringement upon our dignified country”. However, the spokesman warned that the North’s “deterrence will be further strengthened” – and that the country “must continue to keep the treasured nuclear sword in our hands more tightly” – as long as Washington continued with its “hostile policy” against the North.

Xi Jinping ‘wants to improve ties with North Korea’

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President Xi Jinping has replied to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s message of congratulations after the Communist Party congress, with the Chinese leader saying he is hoping to improve ties between the two nations, according to North Korean state media. Details of Xi’s message were reported by North Korea’s official news agency and say it: “i wish that under the new situation the Chinese side will make efforts with the DPRK to promote relations between the two parties for stable development and thus make a positive contribution to providing the peoples of the two countries with greater happiness and to defend regional peace and stability and common prosperity”, Xi was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency. China, the North’s sole major ally, has grown increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang and has repeatedly called for restraint, urging all sides to negotiate to lessons tensions on the Korean peninsula. Xi has previously sent messages to Kim, most recently last year when he expressed congratulations on the staging of a party congress in North Korea. A senior Chinese official also handed over a letter from Xi to Kim during celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party two years ago. Hwang Jae-ho, an expert on Northeast Asia regional security at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said the exchange of messages between Kim and Xi meant the two nations did not want their ties to further deteriorate. “Under the current situation, relations between China and North Korea cannot worsen any more”, Hwang said. Wang Sheng, a professor studying Korean affairs at Jilin University in northeast China, said Xi’s reply was a courtesy to Kim. “The interaction reflected that Sino-North Korea relations may warm up a little because there is no major obstacle between two countries except Pyongyang’s nuclear programme”, he said.

North Korea attacks Donald Trump as ‘incurably mentally deranged’

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North Korea slammed US President Donald Trump as “incurably mentally deranged” in a personal attack ahead of his first visit to Asia, as the South’s leader insisted Washington could not take military action on the peninsula without his agreement. The US has 28,500 troops stationed in the South to defend it from the North, Trump dubbed Kim “Rocket Man” in the same speech – Pyongyang has tested missiles apparently capable of reaching much of the US mainland – and days later Kim responded with a personal statement calling him a “dotard”, an obscure term for a weak or senile old man. Washington has deployed key military assets including jet fighters and aircraft carriers near the peninsula following the North’s sixth nuclear test in September, which also saw the United Nations impose an eighth set of sanctions on the isolated country. South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday said his country would not develop or possess nuclear weapons, unlike its neighbour. In his address to the National Assembly Moon, who has advocated engagement to bring the North to the negotiating table, insisted: “There should be no military action on the peninsula without our prior consent.” Pyongyang hails its nuclear arsenal as a “treasured sword” to protect itself from potential invasion by its “imperialist enemy” the US, but has threatened to bracket the US Pacific island of Guam with missiles.

Trump’s itinerary includes Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, with all eyes on his message to the North and Kim. In the South Trump is due to address parliament, visit a US military base, and hold a summit with Moon, although he will not go to the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two Koreas.

NATO chief Stoltenberg calls North Korea “global threat ” during the Japan visit

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Stoltenberg is in Tokyo to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other senior officials including defence minister Itsunori Onodera later in the day. “We are as concerned as you are about the provocative, reckless behaviour from North Korea,” he said in a speech to a group of security experts and defence officials. “It is really dangerous, it poses a direct threat to countries in this region [including] Japan, but it is also a global threat”, he added. Pyongyang has sparked global alarm in recent months by conducting its sixth nuclear test and test-launching missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, while US President Donald Trump and the North’s young ruler Kim Jong-Un have traded threats of war and personal insults. “NATO strongly support political, diplomatic, economic pressure on North Korea and we welcome the strengthening of the sanctions” adopted by the UN Security Council in September, Stoltenberg said. “But even more important, we need to be sure that the sanctions are fully and transparently implemented”, he added. Stoltenberg’s visit comes after Abe met with him in Brussels in July to agree on boosting security co-operation. “We know and you know that North Korea’s missile ranges reach the west coast of the United State and the ranges reach most of Europe”, he said Monday. But the NATO chief warned this month that military action against Pyongyang would have “devastating consequences”, after Trump said diplomatic efforts had failed.

 

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